An upcoming night of prog rock entertainment is part of organisers’ efforts to ‘change the North’s musical landscape’.

Finn McGregor, bass player of the band Ebb, which will perform alongside other acts at the Temple of Prog event in Carlisle next year, said there was a general feeling within the prog rock community that there wasn’t any prog north of its traditional roots.

“Carlisle is as far north as you can get before Scotland, which seems to be a dead duck.

“It’s very much indie only – we think of it as the Glasgow Mafia, there are a handful of promotors and clubs that sneer at metal, prog, hip hop, and if you don’t sound like they want you don’t get in,” he said, explaining the difficulty in establishing a prog scene in the north.

He said the North is ‘particularly addicted to tribute and cover acts’, whereas the South is generally more open to the eclectic.

But it’s likely not a distinct cultural difference between the regions, instead a matter of funding, McGregor said.

Historically it has been the case that the North has less money than the South.

Consequently, there’s a history of larger venues that receive more external funding there which would be more open to hosting leftfield acts as they’re less reliant on ticket sales.

Tribute acts that play fan favourites don’t form much of a risk for audiences and sell tickets, whereas more experimental acts are a gamble that venues aren’t as willing to take, he said.

“We're probably going to lose money on the gig and we're prepared to do that,” he said, adding that in 2016 he and the bands in his commune put on Pandorafest, a music festival showcasing women in music, which he and the rest of Ebb, who are all women, are passionate about.

Audiences didn’t take to it as well as expected, though, with some musicians playing to empty crowds as McGregor pined that perhaps Scotland, or indeed the UK’s music scene, wasn’t ready to engage in an all-woman music festival.

Nearly ten years on and some progress has been made in that field, as he added: “If people bang away at it hard and long enough, a musical landscape can be changed.

“There’s an effort of will and responsibility on our side to come up with something that can bring a listener over.

“We have a responsibility to make stuff which is good enough, but that’s very hard – you can lose a lot of money, get into debt, and feel like an idiot doing so.”

Despite trying to show something new and unheard for the North, McGregor admitted that they are cowing to the needs he perceives the region to have by putting relative household name Arthur Brown at the top of the bill, but he wouldn’t have done so if he didn’t sincerely believe it was artistically worth it.

“Arthur Brown is crazy, but through the through he’s brilliant.

“He’s intelligent and brings up interesting points.

“I love musical integrity, something that moves the heart, brain, and body.”

As a result of the big name the event will showcase smaller acts like Ebb, Spriggan Mist, The Emerald Dawn, and Hull-based Cowfish.

Overall, prog certainly isn’t dead, although some may find that to be the case – it’s a matter of knowing where to look, McGregor explained.

He said some good current prog acts to look out for are We Are The Manic Whale, Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate, and Also Eden, but to also keep an eye on prog festivals for the newest talent.

“There's an audience out there that needs this new prog that's out,” he concluded.

For more information about the all-day event, which will happen on January 24, 2025, click here.

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